With fruit harvest just around the corner and grape harvest only a few months after that, I’m making lists. Lots of lists. About all the things I need and the stuff I need to do up at Sonoma. But the other day, it really hit me what I need most. Some Wacky Country Sidekicks. It all started when I got the old Claudette Colbert/Fred MacMurry classic, The Egg and I, from Netflix. Most people my age will know the author, Betty MacDonald, as the author of the Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle books. But she also had a town to country adventure in her early marriage when her husband bought an old farm up in the wilds of Washington’s Olympic Penninsula and transported her up there, without electricity or running water, to start a chicken farm. The Egg and I is the chronicle of that adventure. The movie is probably even more famous as it introduced the characters of Ma and Pa Kettle. The duo were so popular Marjorie Main and Percy Kilbride were tapped to do a whole series of sequel movies.
If you’ve never seen the movie, Ma Kettle is a big woman with what seems like dozens of kids and a farm falling around her ears. Pa Kettle never can do much but borrow everyone else’s tools and create complete disasters whenever he “lends a hand”. Hilarity ensues.
The Egg and I was, according to some sources, one of the inspirations for the Boomer TV classic Green Acres. I’m still trying to figure out who the Ma and Pa Kettle characters were supposed to be in that one. But no matter, Green Acres had plenty of Wacky Country Sidekicks. Which just proves my point. You transition from City to Country and you must have Wacky Country Sidekicks.
Wacky Country Sidekicks, at least according to Pop Culture, always had a schtick. Ma Kettle’s was that she was always stirring up some mess in a big kettle. Then she’d yell out her catch phrase, “Come and Git It” and dozens of children would stampede through the door knocking down whatever visitor was clueless enough to be standing in the way. Of course all my contemporaries remember Green Acres characters like Sam Drucker the store owner who also serves as a newspaper printer/editor, volunteer fireman, constable, justice of the peace and postmaster. Basically, nothing got done in Hooterville unless it went through Sam Drucker. Then, of course, there were the elderly neighbors, Fred and Doris Ziffel, who “adopted” a pig named Arnold as their “son”. Arnold understood English, lived indoors, and was pampered by everyone. Like all good 1960s children, Arnold was an avid TV watcher and a big Western fan. Seems one of the main running jokes on Green Acres was that only city transplant Oliver Wendall Douglas seems aware that Arnold is livestock.
Of course, Wacky Country Sidekicks are great comic relief when you are living out in the country. But as I thought back on these golden examples of the genre, it occurred to me that there was really another dynamic to the WCS. Seems like the sophisticated city slickers were always doing things wrong, getting bamboozled by livestock and having things fall apart all around them. Then those Wacky Country Sidekicks would show up, and with surreal logic, somehow put everything to rights.
So THAT’S why we really need some Wacky Country Sidekicks. We’re already down with that doing everything wrong and stuff falling apart schtick.
So calling all Wacky Country Sidekicks! You are needed at Two Terrier Vineyards. Here’s the deal, we agree to overlook the fact that Arnold is a pig and you don’t mention that Oscar and Lucy are terriers.
Hey, as long as we’re in full Boomer Nostalgia Mode, when we get horses, we’ll need one of these:
Apparently, the Wacky Country Sidekicks have all gotten lawyers, because all the Green Acres theme song videos have been removed from YouTube. But how about this one:
I do have one thing in common with Uncle Joe: I’m movin’ kinda slow these days.
Then again, it’s 99 degrees outside.
Then again, the temps could have something to do with all those petticoats draped over that water tower.
If I lived closer, I’d sign up as a Wacky Country Sidekick in a heartbeat. Lemme work on my schtick in the meantime!
Pretty nice post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say
that I have really liked reading your blog posts. Any way
I’ll be subscribing to your blog and I hope you write again soon!
Thinking that maybe WCS’s are on the endangered list like good nanny’s.
Wishing you luck with finding yours.
Wouldn’t this tend to make you Lisa Douglas?
CGHill beat me to it. I’m a movin’ kinda slow too! Fun memories. Since I’m from Hee Haw Country, perhaps I could audition. My twang gets thicker the more I’m around “twangers”.
By the way, why do you live in the City?
Yes, I often say I’m channeling Lisa Douglas — except for the whole Hungarian thing. Well, Maybelline, we’re in the middle of our transition — and one of us still has a 9-5 (or 8-9) job. And it’s not exactly the best time to unload San Francisco real estate. So we’re still straddling the City/Country divide. Wait until the grape harvest. I’ll be up in Sonoma full time. Alone. Unless I can round up my Wacky Country Posse.
I think your John the Baptist is eminently qualified to by your wacky country sidekick. Someday I’ll have to post about handyman Carroll (I call him Sue).
It’s so good to know there are Petticoat Junction aficionados out there — I often sing the lyrics as I am gardening! And then I spent many years while trail riding singing Mr. Ed to my pony and horse companions. They seemed to enjoy it as their ears would flick back and forth with the occasional nicker as an accompaniment. The theme song for Sugarfoot was my next favorite (easy ropin’ cattle lopin’ Sugarfoot), then Wyatt Earp (brave courageous and bold). Aaahhh — those were the days!
And don’t forget: “Have gun, will travel is the card of a man. A man called Paladin.” And Rawhide is always a classic.
Betty MacDonald is a beloved writer and she has many fans.
There is a Betty MacDonald Fan Club with members all over the world.
Did you know that Betty MacDonald had serious problems with the real Kettles in her life?
There is an E book entitled THE KETTLES’ MILLION DOLLAR EGG
describing the lawsuit.